Tax season 2016 is heating up rapidly. And as we’ve told you it is also scam season. Cyber crooks and identity thieves can’t wait to use those millions of stolen Social Security numbers to file false claims and reap in millions more in fraudulent refunds. The best advice, whether or not you’re expecting a refund, is file your return as soon as possible!
The IRS and most state tax agencies won’t get your W-2 information until April. This presents cyber criminals with a window of opportunity to file a fraudulent return using your Social Security number if they have it. New laws should shorten that time by at least a month next year. But that is no help this year.
According to the IRS 90 percent of federal refunds will be mailed or deposited within 21 days after returns are filed. But that still gives identity thieves plenty of time to file a fraudulent return before the IRS receives your W-2.
According to Sandra Block of Kiplinger.com crooks using stolen Social Security numbers claimed $5.8 billion in fraudulent refunds in 2013 and the IRS says it blocked phony refunds worth another $24.2 billion.
So again our best advice is to not to wait to file your return. File as soon as you have all your documents. Quickly filing your return and claiming your refund can prevent a thief with your social security number from hijacking your refund before you get it. If you got it they can’t get it!
If you believe you have been the victim of identity theft or your Social Security number has been stolen you can file an Identity Theft Affidavit (Form 14039) with the IRS.
Another to place to go if you believe that your identity has been stolen is Identitytheft.gov. This is a one stop comprehensive website to handle identity theft complaints and get you started at recovering your identity.
Even if you’re not concerned about someone stealing your tax refund, you should file early for the following reasons;
- You will get your refund sooner.
- You will have more time to plan if you owe money (it’s not due until April 15)
- You’ll have more time to deal with any issues that come up. Tax firms and accountants are busy this time of year so don’t wait until the last minute.
Now you know.